The red kettles and ringing bells of The Salvation Army are a familiar part of the Christmas season. Less familiar is the story of how this 165-year-old organization traces its roots to a British Methodist preacher who found his calling serving the poor.

Methodist Church historian Dale Patterson says The Salvation Army has a strong link to Methodism. The organization was founded in 1860's England by British Methodist preacher William Booth, a pastor in London who sought to bring the lost souls, the poor, hungry and homeless to Christ.

The red kettles first appeared in the U.S. in 1891 in San Francisco as a way to raise money to feed 1000 people Christmas dinner. The idea quickly spread.

Today, the kettles raise more than 100 million dollars each year to provide food, shelter, and disaster relief and The Salvation Army continues in the Wesleyan tradition to serve physical and spiritual needs in 128 countries around the world.


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